India U-18 national football side lifted the SAFF U-18 Championship for the first time when they defeated Bangladesh U-18 2-1 in the final in Kathmandu on Sunday. Also Read - If Jasprit Bumrah Can Stay Fit, He Will Take 400 Test Wickets - Curtly Ambrose
India surged into the lead as early as the 2nd minute when Vikram Partap Singh sped past his marker and banged it in. The match-winner came in late in injury time when the nippy Ravi Bahadur Rana scored off a screamer from about 30 yards. Yeasin Arafat reduced the margin for Bangladesh in the 40th minute. Also Read - Hardik Pandya May Not be Seen in Test Cricket For a Long While - Aakash Chopra
“I had maintained that it will take a moment of brilliance to end this SAFF Championship, and it was fitting that Ravi finished if off with a wonderful strike,” head coach Floyd Pinto said moments after the final whistle. Also Read - The Pressure of Expectations is Getting to Shubman Gill - Sunil Gavaskar
“We were not just the best footballing team in the tournament, but also the most effective team. I am really happy for the boys. They earned it. The sacrifices, and the commitment of the boys was exemplary.”
India’s Ninthoinganba Meetei was adjudged the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
The victory makes it sweeter with the U-15 National Team having lifted the SAFF U-15 Championship beating Bangladesh in the final in August 2019. While the U-16 National Team went on to qualify for the AFC U-16 Championships, the U-19 Team will play the AFC Qualifiers in November in their quest to qualify for the AFC Finals.
“This is going to give us a huge boost for the AFC Championship, and make us more confident as we prepare for it. Hopefully, we will be able to kick-off AFC Qualifiers in a good manner,” Floyd explained.
“I am very thankful to AIFF and SAI for their help in the exposure tours all throughout and look forward to their support.”